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Fencing: No. 9 Northwestern dominates trio of duals

The ‘Cats are on a roll as they approach postseason action.

John Konstantaras / Northwestern Athletics

No. 9 Northwestern has turned its season around in pretty dramatic fashion.

After falling to 10-11 following the Jan. 21 Philadelphia Invitational, the ‘Cats traveled to South Bend for Notre Dame’s DeCicco Duals. They then hosted the Northwestern Duals in Evanston on Feb. 3, before heading down south to Chapel Hill for UNC’s Tar Heel Duals. Over the last three weekends, Northwestern has gone 20-1, beating several ranked squads and clawing its way back into the nation’s top ten teams.

NU kicked off the Jan. 27 DeCicco Duals with a resounding 27-0 rout of Detroit Mercy. And that wouldn’t be the last shutout of the day. After a 24-3 win over Denison, it would once again be on the victorious end of a shutout, this time over Cleveland State. Northwestern rode the momentum of its near-perfect start into its most important matchup of the day against No. 2 Notre Dame. Though it dropped the foil 4-5, a 6-3 victory in the epee and a 5-4 win in the sabre led the team to a narrow 15-12 upset over the Fighting Irish.

Northwestern closed out the day nicely with a 20-7 win over Wayne State and a 25-2 victory against Lawrence. Though the whole team thrived, the sabre squad was particularly dominant, with five Wildcats going undefeated: Amy Lu, Sky Miller, Levi Hoogendoorn, Kailing Sathyanath and Sumin Liu.

Riding high off its success at South Bend, Northwestern returned to Ryan Fieldhouse for a weekend to host the Northwestern Duals, where it would face some tougher competition. NU started the day against No. 11 Temple, where 5-4 victories in the epee and foil would propel it to a slim 14-13 win. Victories in all three events would then give it a 16-11 win over No. 10 Cornell.

Next up, the ‘Cats were locked in two straight nail-biters. First, in a near-replica of their win over Temple, Northwestern snagged 5-4 wins in the epee and foil to edge past UC San Diego. Then, in a rematch from the DeCicco Duals, they took the epee and sabre by a 5-4 margin to stun No. 2 Notre Dame 14-13 for the second time in as many weeks. Northwestern would then ride a 9-0 finish in the sabre on its way to a dominant 20-7 defeat of No. 8 Penn State to close out the first day of matches.

NU commenced the second day of match play against No. 5 Ohio State. With impressive victories in the foil and sabre, it was able to earn a 16-11 win over the Buckeyes. The other ranked opponent on the day was No. 15 Air Force, who Northwestern cruised past 19-8. It also put up strong showings in victories over Boston College (17-10), Incarnate Word (20-7) and Fairleigh Dickinson (25-2) to wrap up an undefeated weekend at home.

On Saturday, the ‘Cats were in Chapel Hill for the Tar Heel Duals. They started off hot as ever, with consecutive 18-9 victories over two ranked teams: No. 9 Temple and No. 15 NYU. They then defeated Boston College for the second straight week, this time by a score of 16-11.

Unfortunately, the winning streak came to an end as the Tar Heels won 14-13 to give NU its first loss since the Philadelphia Invitational. Despite the tough blow, NU was able to finish the day strongly with a 23-4 romp over Long Island University.

Next up for a surging Northwestern team is the Junior Olympics in Charlotte, which begin on Friday and continue through the weekend.